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What is an Icon - Windows - Macintosh What is an Icon? This article provides information on the following topics: • What are the differences between an image and an icon? • What is the structure of an icon? • Which image formats should I include in my icons? • What is the RGB icon format with Alpha Channel? Icons? • How to create an icon? An icon is a graphic image, a small picture or object that represents a file, program, web page, or command. Icons help you execute commands, open programs or documents quickly. To execute a command by using an icon, click or double-click on the icon. It is also useful to recognize quickly an object in a browser list. For example, all documents using the same extension have the same icon. That's almost all you need to know if you only use icons. But to create icons, you need to more about them. What's the difference between a standard image and an icon image? What's the structure of an icon? How to create an icon which will display correctly on all screen configurations (size, colors...)? Can we save an icon to a file? Can we assemble several icons into one file? What about the new Windows® XP icon format? What are the differences between an image and an icon? A computer image is a bitmap (composed of pixels) or vector (composed of drawing paths) picture, which can be saved using various formats (BMP, PSD, GIF, JPEG, WMF...). All these formats have several different properties (bitmaps, vectors, compressed, layered, animated...) and can be used to store pictures at any sizes and resolution. Icons are different from standard images. They are have standard sizes (usually ability to include transparent areas. This allows seeing the screen background behind the icon within its square image (see illustration below). Top of Page What is the structure of an icon? An icon is a group of images of various formats (size and colors). Furthermore, each image can include transparent area. That's why you'll find a transparent color parameter using an alpha channel for the new RGB/A image format You need to include several images in an icon to permit Windows® or Macintosh® OS to choose the appropriate format when displaying it on screen. It may change based on screen number of colors and display location. For example, The Macintosh® OSX create smooth transparency and permits nice resize effects . This is very important to create several image formats in an icon (especially if you whish to redistribute it) includes a powerful feature which permits to create new formats based on existing images in a few clicks. edition of OSX Top of Page Which image formats should I include in my icons? To be compatible with all display cases and screen configurations, you must consider creating icons containing various image formats. See below the minimum and recommended formats for different OS versions: Examples of scaling ratios applied to some common icon sizes: Below is a summary of the standard image formats that should be included in icons. If an image format Top of Page What is the RGB icon format with Alpha Channel? coded in RGB plus an additional opacity channel. This channel is called See the illustration below to understand how channels are organized in an RGB/A image. This is a new image format that you can find in new generation of icons. This image format is called Windows® The main advantage of this image format is that it permits to display a smooth transparency in icons. The resulting image is displayed with smooth contours on all backgrounds. It permits also to create dropped shadows behind icons. This interesting effect, which is recommended by Microsoft, is usually used in Windows® XP icons. The following illustration shows the difference between a standard image format transparency (in Windows® and Macintosh® icons support the reason why you need to include other standard formats in your icons. Top of Page Can we save an icon to a file? icon file. If you want to group several icons in a file you must create a library (see below). fully support Windows® and Macintosh® icon files. You can create, read is used to transfer icons between Windows® and Macintosh® preserving Macintosh®resource Top of Page Can we save several icons into one file? Yes, you can assemble several icons in one file called an Icon Library. The extension for a standard Icon Library is ICL. fully supports ICL files. It can create, read and save ICL library files. Furthermore, ICL is fully supported by all versions of Windows®. For example, you can customize a Windows® shortcut by selecting a new icon in an ICL file. If you manage a large number of icons, we recommend you to store them in ICL files. ICL file size is limited to 64MB. Creation of Macintosh® icon libraries is not yet supported However you can read RSRC files with several icons embedded as well as Icontainer libraries. Additionally you can save Macintosh® icons in ICL files. A small overlay image permits to distinguish them in Axialis IconWorkshopä. However you won't be able to open those ICL files under Macintosh®OS. Future versions of Axialis Macintosh® icon library creation. Top of Page Icons? icons now includes the following image formats (grayed formats are optional): 64x64 - RGB/A 48x48 - RGB/A The problem is: if you simply make the icon and save it in standard Windows® XP ICO format, the resulting file Network Graphic) because it has a good lossless ratio and supports alpha channel. The compressed icon sizes are Top of Page How to create an icon? Graphics are among the primary ways of advertising the sale of goods or services. This is true for computing when designing software or website interfaces. The primary solution is to draw icons using either an image or vector to convert this image to an icon. If you don't use an external image editor, contains some drawing tools that permit you to draw your own icons. Using Image Objects Most of us are not graphic designers and we have a problem when it comes to create attractive icons or web Image Objects are the answer. The solution is to use a set of image objects already done by a skilled computer graphic artist, and assembling them together to create a final artwork that will match your needs. Using a set of existing image objects the possibilities are almost infinite. You can create many different icons or graphics simply by adjusting various parameters of each object like Hue (tint), Saturation, Brightness, Contrast, Size, Opacity and more: This association can be easily using a few mouse clicks and drag-and-drops. Creating different versions of an icon is very easy with an object pack. See below some examples of the help icon made in a few minutes simply using the mouse and without drawing one pixel (non-exhaustive list of course!): Top of Page Related Topics make cursors Send us feedback about the site. Microsoft, Windows, Windows XP, Windows Vista are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Adobe, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator are registered trademarks of Adobe System Incorporated Apple, AppStore, Ipod, iPhone, iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc

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